Winning is best revenge

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Jason Jimenez knows full well he's public enemy No. 1 around McMahon Stadium.

The B.C. Lions offensive tackle has few, if any, friends in the Calgary Stampeders dressing room after an ugly play in last year's regular-season-finale that appears to have ended Anthony Gargiulo's career.

Jimenez, however, had no desire to give his side of the story as the teams prepare to meet in the first regular-season clash since.

"There's nothing to discuss," he said yesterday. "People are free to think what they want. If they have an opinion about it, that's their prerogative.

"I'm just looking forward to 2008."

The last play of the first half in what was a meaningless contest for both teams has lived in infamy ever since. As a passing play up field was about to end with the receiver going out of bounds, Jimenez took out Gargiulo well away from the ball.

Gargiulo, a rookie defensive lineman, suffered a broken leg and torn ankle ligaments, and required major surgery.

Gargiulo filed retirement papers when training camp opened.

Jimenez immediately was assessed a 25-yard penalty and ejected.

He was given a one-game suspension, but that was rescinded on appeal, therefore allowing him to play for the Lions on the Western final, which furthered the bad blood between the teams.

An arbitrator ruled the hit was accidental.

Heading into tonight's season-opener, the Stampeders insist they won't be out for retribution, but it's obvious there are still hard feelings.

"However he's decided to deal with what he's done, nothing I can say will change it," said Calgary defensive lineman Randy Chevrier. "The only homage we can pay to our fallen comrade is to go out and really kick some (butt) any time we face those guys, and then give him a call after the game and let him know we played our butts off."

Chevrier didn't suit up for the game in which the hit occured. He watched it from home.

"There was no clear view on what happened, but we saw it on some film when we got back," he said. "It was tough to watch. Anthony Gargiulo, he was kinda one of my proteges -- I took him under my wing when he got here and tried to show him the ropes, tried to show him what it takes to make the team -- and I was proud for him.

"He had a whole hard season of battling through injuries and still playing, coming in and making plays, and to have his ... not his season but his career cut short is pretty tragic.

"Obviously it is a vicious sport and you hope guys respect each other enough to not do those sorts of things, but for us, we're looking forward. It's a new year.

"We know it's going to be a tough game (tonight) and will expect whatever comes our way. We know that we've learned from last season's experience and we hope that possibly they've learned from last season's experience.

"You've got to play within the rules. You never want to see a guy end his career that way. You hope he can walk normally after that."

Added quarterback Henry Burris: "When it happened, players were up in arms across the league. The fact it has ended a career is a sad part about it. The guys haven't allowed it to weigh on us. Hopefully, Jimenez has learned a valuable lesson from what happened.

"Our players are not thinking about it. Our hopes and prayers are with Anthony in the hopes he can come back fully recovered."

That night, Jimenez phoned Gargiulo and then-Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins to apologize.

He's said the hit was accidental and a sore leg caused by a car accident earlier in the day gave way, causing him to lose his balance and fall into Gargiulo.

Lions head coach Wally Buono is just hoping tonight's tilt will finally put the incident to rest and bristles at those who say his team has players who cross the line.

"At the end of the day, we're talking about men that play a very tough position," Buono said.

"When 300-pound men attack each other, things, unfortunately, occur. Is cutting somebody a cheap thing? When you run block and cut the guy off, is that a cheap thing?

"That's the nasty part of the game.

"Have you guys watched other teams' offensive lines? What goes on with one group goes on across the league. It's not a subject that's only pertinent to only one team."


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